Monday, November 23, 2009

How To Evaluate a Web Site: Part II

Now that you know the main criteria for evaluating a website (purpose, authority/creator, objectivity, currency, and coverage) how do you use these criteria to determine if a website is a reliable source that you can use for academic work? This post will help you apply the criteria in order to properly evaluate a website so you can determine if it is suitable for academic work.

Look at the domain name to gain some insight into why the site was created.
  • .com or .biz: a commercial site, these sites represent businesses so the information provided may be an attempt to get you to buy something
  • .edu: these sites are created by higher education institutions and are often created with education as the main purpose
  • .gov: these sites represent a governmental agency or institution
  • .org: these sites are created by organizations, they may be non-profit groups, religious or charitable organizations or a lobbying group, so it is important to evaluate them using the following criteria
  • ~ (“tilde”): this symbol means that the website is a personal site, you will need to carefully evaluate these sites because they may be reputable, or they may be heavily biased and dishonest
If it is not clear from looking at the domain name of the website, try looking for an “about us” or “background” section of the website.

You need to know who is responsible for the information on the website and if they are a reliable source of this information. Use the following questions to determine if the creator is reliable or not.
  • Is there a creator listed
  • Are they affiliated with an institution?
  • What are their credentials?
  • Is there any contact information provided?
  • Are there references listed? If so are these legitimate?

The information on the website should be unbiased and supported with evidence and research. Use the following questions to determine if the information is neutral with statements supported by evidence.

  • Does the site appear to look at “both sides” of an issue?

  • Are any claims made supported with evidence?
  • Does the site appear to have information that is exaggerated or distorted?
  • Is the information an opinion or unbiased reporting of facts?

The information provided should be updated regularly and reflect the newest available knowledge. To determine if a website is up-to-date, look at the following criteria:
  • Does the site say when it was last updated?
  • If the site has different articles does each have the date it was posted to the site?
  • Is the information on the page outdated?

The information provided should be thorough and comprehensive. Examine the website based on the following questions to determine the coverage of the information
  • Does the site cover the topic comprehensively?
  • Is there any information clearly missing?
  • Is there content unavailable because of non-functioning links or because you need to subscribe for full access?

1 comment:

  1. hi Lauren. I know you don't want to hear from me but I would like your help starting a blog of my own. Perhaps you would help?